We seek to contribute to these priorities by presenting an analysis of environmental cases in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). A rights framing of environmental change focuses attention on the multiscalar interplay between individual rights, public interests, and state responsibilities, and on how environmental risks and opportunities are known and distributed between actors. This deliberation, practiced through adjudication in the courtroom, differs substantially from the traditional realm of environmental law and the focus of much of the law and resilience literature to date: statutory and administrative law. Does international legal adjudication of environmental cases within a rights framework help or hinder adaptive governance of social-ecological systems? First, we identify 3 proxies for adaptive governance: use of multiple forms of knowledge, support for adaptive policy making and management, and support for polycentricity. We then examine how European human rights law frames adjudication of environmental cases, before analyzing the transcripts of 12 environmental cases heard by the ECtHR between 1990 and 2009. In the Discussion, we examine the extent to which the adjudicative practice of the ECtHR supports our proxies for adaptive governance.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, managing the sustainable use and exploitation of natural resources and planning for sustainable cities are just some of the many challenges faced by human societies around the world on a day to day basis. Environmental law is the dynamic body of law providing the frameworks and tools for responding to these challenges.
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ELP Professors Shalanda Baker and Maxine Burkett contributed their expertise in the new book: International Environmental Law and the Global South.